Tall Towers and Family Trees

The Activities

  1. Topic: Counting by 10s: Book: The Wing Wing Brothers Carnival de Math by Long.
  2. Topic: Spatial Reasoning: Work together to build the tallest possible towers out of Magformers. David and I built our own towers beforehand and marked the heights on the wall.  The kids tried to beat our towers.
  3. Topic: Powers and Charts::  Look at family tree and figure out how many parents, grand-parents, great grand parents each person has.  Also figure out how many kids, grandkids, great-grand kids you’ll have if each person in the tree has 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4 kids.  I drew out family trees of a person’s direct ancestors and descendents. For the descendants I drew several versions of the tree, changing the # of kids each descendant had.

    A direct relations tree where each descendant has 3 kids.


Before Circle, David and I each built magformer towers to give the kids something to try to beat.  I didn’t try too hard, so mine was much lower than David’s.

The family tree charts took awhile to make. I first drew the ancestors half on graph paper. Then I scanned it onto the computer, printed it several times, and drew the various descendant halves. Then I scanned it back in, and printed out several copies for the kids.

How did it go?

There were 3 kids at this week’s circle.  During the summer many families are travelling so we rarely get all 6 together.  All the kids loved the tower building challenge…They had very interesting ideas about how to stabilize their tower when it started to tip.  They wanted to build very large fins on each side, kind of like a rocket ship.

Their tower suddenly collapsed while they were still building it, but they handled the disappointment ok.  Then we had David come in and try to recreate his winning tower, but his crashed suddenly, which might have made the kids feel better.

The family tree activity did not go as well as I’d hoped.  I had filled in a family tree for my daughter with lots of our ancestors (by calling up both grandmothers).  But the kids didn’t seem too interested in the ancestors names.  They did have some fun naming their own kids though. ‘Elsa’ was a popular choice.  Somehow I didn’t get to talk about powers as much as I wanted…the kids didn’t really notice how much faster your descendant tree grows if each person has 4 kids vs 2 kids.


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